Extreme athletes from around the country and world have descended on New England for a major competition.
Some of the nation’s most elite downhill mountain bike races are taking place this weekend in Vermont.
From right out of the gate, a steep and rocky drop-off is the first challenge facing the extreme athletes in the Fox U.S. Open of Mountain Biking, held at the famous Killington Resort.
“The course is super difficult,” said athlete Rafael Gutierrez from Colombia, who is one of the favorites going into the competition.
Gutierrez said people sometimes underestimate the skill required to maintain control and speed in these intense downhill races.
“You have to be super fit; super focused,” the competitor said.
This is a fast-growing sport among pros—and even for weekend enthusiasts, New England is increasingly offering fresh opportunities for riding.
Killington is just one of the region’s ski resorts that have invested in summertime attractions for mountain bikers in recent years.
“People on the East Coast were like, ‘Wow, Killington’s becoming a big deal in the bike world,’ and this event is a true testament of that,” said Kristel Fillmore of Killington Resort.
Behind the scenes, Killington’s trail crew has spent weeks designing the track and shaping features.
A pot of $40,000 in prize money is available for top finishers this weekend.
With some rain in the forecast, though, safety is on the minds of many athletes.
“I’ve already had a lot of crashes,” recalled athlete Gaetan Vige of France, describing incidents from his past. “I broke my femur, pelvis, wrist, collarbone, so sometimes it’s dangerous. But after the injuries, you learn how to ride and to be safe.”
“It should be a good course—I’m excited to see what it’ll look like with this rain that they’ve predicted,” said competitor Samantha Soriano of Colorado, who added that any rain would make the challenging terrain even more so. “[It’ll require] different tires and pretty much a different bike set up, for sure.”
This is the first time Killington is hosting this event, but it may not be the last. The resort should find out in the coming weeks if the U.S. Open of Mountain Biking will return again next year.
For more on the Fox U.S. Open of Mountain Biking click here.